Proposal to Rename Arlington Street for MLK

NAACP circulates petition to name Division Street for civil rights leader

The NAACP wants Arlington to rename Division Street in honor of late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The organization has been circulating an online petition to gather support for the proposal but the city said renaming the eight-mile stretch of road is easier said than done.

"They have to get 80 to 100 percent participation," city spokeswoman Rebecca Rodriguez said. "They get to bring it to council and, at that point, the actual dialog can actually begin."

Streets named after King are fairly common. A study by East Carolina University found there are more than 900 streets across the United States that have been named or renamed Martin Luther King Jr.

Most businesses on Division Street declined to talk on camera about the idea because of worries that they might lose customers but did say renaming the street would be costly in the long run.

Businesses would have to order new stationary, sign, and business cards -- financial costs the city would not be willing to pick up.

"The city is not in the business of picking up the cost for private businesses," Rodriguez said. "The city would be obligated to pay for its own signage, which then it fact, would be in the tens of thousands of dollars."

The NAACP has said that if does not get help at the local level, it would head to state legislators.

"It's not about politics; it's about process," Rodriguez said.

The NAACP will hold an End the Division Campaign March on Saturday morning beginning at 400 Eastern Star Street.

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